08/13/2019, 10.12
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India, Pope's condolences for victims of monsoon rains

by Nirmala Carvalho

The toll of flood victims rose to 184, as well as one million displaced people.  Msgr. Derek Fernandes managed to get to Kadra, in Karnataka, where the waters receded.  The population has lost everything;  the main concern is the spread of epidemics.

New Delhi (AsiaNews) - Pope Francis has expressed deep sorrow for the "tragic loss of life due to the monsoons" in India,  in a telegram signed by the Secretary of State, Cardinal Piero Parolin. He has also statedhis closeness and "sincere condolences to the relatives of the victims and of the wounded "of the floods that particularly affected the states of Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Gujarat.  Meanwhile, the toll of torrential rains continues to rise and stands at 184 victims across the country, in addition to one million displaced people.

In the pontiff's thoughts there are also those who have lost all means of survival and their homes.  At the end of the message, Card.  Parolin emphasizes that Francis "prays for the relief operations that are in progress and invokes the divine blessing on the nation, so that strength and perseverance will not be lacking".

With regard to the rescue operations, the difficulty of reaching the most internal areas remained isolated due to the fury of the waters that invaded the roads and disrupted communication routes.  Meanwhile, Msgr.  Derek Fernandes, bishop of Belgaum and apostolic administrator of Karwar (in Karnataka), reports to AsiaNews that he managed to get to Kadra, where "the waters have receded, but the houses remain uninhabitable.  Most of them collapsed and it is dangerous to return, as the walls are built with mud bricks ”.

The poor resistance of the construction material, explains the bishop, "is the reason why the houses did not resist the fury of the floods.  When it returns, the population will need help to rebuild everything".  His diocese activated relief operations "about 15 days ago, distributing basic necessities.  The government car is also doing quite well here and the deputy commissioner came in person to supervise the opening of the dams.  At the moment the situation seems under control and even the water level has decreased.  The main concern is the spread of epidemics linked to the unhealthiness of water ".

Msgr. Fernandes tells that poor people live in the area, who have humble jobs or run small businesses.  "We visited a welder's shop: all the machines were destroyed.  The inhabitants have lost everything: kitchen utensils, refrigerators, personal items.  Our volunteer staff is helping to clean up homes and prevent attacks by dangerous animals such as snakes.  They are providing psychological support, cooking and distributing good quality food to at least 2 thousand people.  We are also making an estimate of the costs necessary to rebuild the houses and a plan for the rehabilitation of the population".

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